Vincent Lubeck

Vincent Lubeck


• 1654 1740


Judging from his compositions, Vincent Lübeck was one of the brilliant and virtuoso organists in Northern Germany during the late Baroque era.

It is believed that his father, also named Vincent, was the organist in their small town in northern Germany and gave the younger Vincent his musical education. In 1675, he got the post of organist at the church of St. Cosmos and Damian in Stade, near Hamburg. In accordance with an odd practice in Northern Germany, he had to marry his predecessor's daughter to get the job. Another benefit of the job was that he could see installed in his church the latest instrument by the best organ builder of the day, Arp Schnitger, a 62-stop instrument completed in 1679. Both the organ and its organist came to be extolled widely.

His reputation and his experience with the construction of the organ led him to be consulted frequently and asked to go judge new organ installations in the region. He was also much in demand as a teacher and he taught two of his sons, Peter Paul and Vincent, to be organists. In 1702, he moved to Hamburg to become organist at Jakobskirche, leaving his job in Stade to his son Vincent. He remained in positions in Hamburg churches for the rest of his life. On his death, his son Vincent succeeded him as organist at St. Nicolai.

A very high proportion of Lübeck's music has been lost. Only nine organ compositions survive and they are exceptionally brilliant works, requiring great virtuosity to perform. Their counterpoint is imaginative and well-unified by subtle thematic interrelationships. He also wrote a harpsichord suite that survives, called Clavier Übung, and is a very vigorous work. However, the three surviving examples of his vocal writing are much less worthwhile. Either the choir for which they were intended was one of modest resources or Lübeck just didn't have the flair for vocal music that he did for his keyboard works, for they are cautious, a quality that also detracts from his only extant cantata, Gott Wie Dein Nahme. In one vocal piece, however, the simplicity of the writing becomes eloquent and lyrical, a Christmas cantata called Willkommen Süsser Brautigam, which has remained popular as a seasonal work in Germany.